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A Guide to Montepulciano Wine

Pronounced “mon-tae-pul-chee-AH-no” this wine is almost as enjoyable to say, as it is to drink. Originating in Italy, this moody fuller bodied wine is relatively new to Australian vineyards, and is very quickly growing in acclaim. Known in Australia by its easier to pronounce moniker, “Monte” goes hand in hand with good food and offers a delightful alternative to a Shiraz or Merlot if you are keen to try something different.

History of Montepulciano

Grape Montepulciano wine is not to be confused with Montepulciano the Italian town, and the wines named for that town. Montepulciano wine (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo) is named for the Montepulciano grape from which it is produced, while Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a Tuscan wine named for its town of origin. Montepulciano grapes are grown all over central and southern Italy, with the grape being the second most popular planting after Sangiovese. Unsuitable to cooler regions as the grape is late to ripening, Montepulciano grapes are ideal for warm climate vineyards.

As recently as ten years ago, not one Montepulciano grape was grown in Australia; with Nebbilo and Barbera being the predominant Italian wines grown locally. As such, it is only the most innovative vineyards which have ventured into production of the Italian varietal. In 2017, two Australian producers were awarded gold medals for their Montepulciano wines at the prestigious International Wine Challenge, the first time non-Italian grapes took home the award, demonstrating the innovation, hard work and speed with which Australia can produce high quality new varieties of wine.

Montepulciano Tasting Notes

It is thanks to the perfect match of the South Australian climate and the Montepulciano grape that Montepulciano wine is fast becoming so successful within Australia. Montepulciano grapes enjoy the heat and dry weather, and ripen late in the season. It is this late ripening which allows the Montepulciano grapes to hold onto their natural acids and subsequently develop their distinctive taste. The Barossa Valley and Montepulciano wine are a match made in heaven. With milder tannins and a lower acidity than you would usually expect from an Italian wine, Montepulciano red wine delivers something different.

Montepulciano wine is a medium weight red wine which is savoury, textural, and can vary from quite a rustic flavoured wine, through to red with an incredibly polished finish. Montepulciano is often described as having a lot of finesse. A fuller bodied wine which is heavier on the tannins, Montepulciano wine is mysterious; dark, rich and intense. It is the fruit which is the most alluring quality of a Montepulciano red wine; with sour cherries, plum and boysenberry being the predominant flavours with a moderate acidity. The broodiness of a Monte however, is induced by its earthier tones of oregano and tar making it feel somehow romantic and passionate.

Despite having a low skin to juice ratio, Montepulciano is a deep ruby red colour. This is thanks to the large size of the fruit, which contains a lot of juice.

Montepulciano Food Pairing

Being an Italian wine, Montepulciano is made to pair with fruit, and is incredibly variable when it comes to what meals it complements. Unsurprisingly, it pairs well with meaty Italian pastas like a homemade pappardelle with a meaty ragu. It is the richness and depth of a Montepulciano wine that allows it to cut through the meatiness of an Italian sauce and pairs wonderfully with roasted root vegetables like pumpkin and parsnip.

Barossa Valley Wine Company’s Gravel Track Montepulciano 2018 is fermented at cooler temperatures for ten days and then allowed a secondary fermentation and maturation. With maturation taking place in a combination of American and French oak for fourteen months, Gravel Track’s Montepulciano has beautiful complexity and depth. A wine like this, with notes of blueberries and plum complemented by delicate oak and a hint of spicy aniseed, pair perfectly with braised meats, rich pies (or even a meat lovers pizza) and are perfect for a winter dinner party.